Wednesday, December 8, 2010

'Waiting For Godot'

This morning, I had a dream that I was in Boulder, (Utah) and that I was putting up a play. Once again, the circumstances of the production were difficult, and to top it off, I dreamed that I was trying to do a Beckett play, even though I admit, Beckett is difficult for me to understand. The space where I was putting up the play was in disarray, and there were a few people standing around looking at me blankly. Someone came up to me, (I'll keep the that someone anonymous) and ask me why I was trying to do another play when what I should be doing was what every one else was doing. The conversation started out with curiosity, and then quickly escalated to a sharp conflict. Then, the person left me, and I turned around and looked at the production laying everywhere and questioned myself. Why would I choose to do a Beckett play in this seemingly de Chirico setting? Why would I choose to do something that I didn't understand in the first place? Why would I think I could bring a Beckett play to an audience that really didn't even want it? Why would I keep torturing myself with these delusions of grandeur? The answer to these questions is simple. I don't know. Is it some strange form of self-destruction that I can't stop? Is it the escape from the despair I feel when things seem ordinary and homogenized? More questions, but there is definitely something very Jungian going on here. In an attempt to understand these depressive episodes, it occurs to me that the artistic arc I have made of my life has all been an attempt to escape the mundane act of living. Or, an escape from the act of not finding meaning in everything. I don't know how to rest. In essence, it is my attempt to find an escape from a level of ordinariness that I find totally isolating and despairing. And now I am trapped within it. There is no play that I can do. There is no act of creating that I can muster up, for I have lost everything today, even love.

Please understand, that this is what I must feel today, there isn't anyway out of these feelings except the hope of another day to feel differently. When I read Beckett's biography several years ago, I found that my body, my blood pressure, my fight or flight tendencies where in full blown readiness the whole time I experienced his life. The first time I saw 'Waiting For Godot', (waiting for god) I couldn't stop thinking about it and it stays with me to this day. It was the power of theatre in its most primeval, and yet posed existential questions that were so profound, I found them impossible to forget. It was like being touched by God, and the notion that all of life was spent waiting for God to come. That there was no escaping the human condition of being trapped in a body until it returned to dust in a manner that was not of our own choosing, unless we found courage to end it by our own hand. That each day would be a variation on the one before it, and escape was impossible. For Beckett, I think it was his own feelings of isolation, and his own willingness to face his own demons, which was a courageous act. For respite, he had to see them and feel them with all of his senses, which is what theatre enables.

This morning, I found that my dreaming life profoundly effected my waking life, and I had no way of stopping the actions that were irreversible, to once again break down and challenge what has been given to me, I think, to try to make some sense of the black cloud that is consuming me. Perhaps it is chemical, perhaps as I age I am loosing that chemical in my brain that allows some levity and excitement to keep me in balance. It seems to me that if I am not creating I am not in control of these feelings. Perhaps I'm going mad. Perhaps my medication is not working. Perhaps I am facing the fact that all of my ideas on love, on creation, and on life have all been delusional, and that in the act of doing theatre I've been able to create my own absurd notion of how it should be and how to make sense of it all. And now that act of creation seems so far away.

I look at my wreck of a truck, I look at the condition of my body, I look at the condition of my mind and spirit, and think, how did I get here? How did I suppose that the act of creating something I could understand render me so helpless? The answer, I don't know. I only know that lately, when I go to bed at night, I feel the fatigue of a man who has worked all day at seemingly nothing but the thoughts in my brain, like the character in 'Notes From the Underground'. I remember reading Kafka and hating it, but today, I think I understand that transformation into the cockroach. When I needed a spiritual experience, I used to be able to find the energy and the motive to reach for it, today I feel as though it's far beyond my reach. It just occurred to me that this is what it feels like to lose love, but also to push it out of my life for no seemingly good reason. Has my insecurity reached a point where I am not even capable of keeping love and intimacy in my life?

Well readers, we have all felt the awful pain of love leaving, perhaps this is just my own expression of what it feels like to the playwright. Perhaps it is a gage of how deeply we suddenly found ourselves in its hand, and then to suddenly lose it, well, okay, it just hurts, and there is nothing to be done, nothing to be done to change it…


Doc said...

Hey, Ray, your mom just read your latest blog to me with all of the dramatic pauses that only she can bring to a reading. You know that I am, according to your mother, the biggest POS she's ever met. I know you are feeling down because you said so. I am 73 years old, your mother may be older than I am but I have been married 4 times. The amazing part is I still have my testicles or as your mother just commented you do. If a man never got over his first marriage, it is yours truly. She reached down into my throat and ripped my heart out and threw it on the floor and stomped it. Does that make you feel better? That's why I drink today, and your mom says that's the excuse I use. And it's a pretty damn good one. She says I am mentally ill. And if you see the youtube CW we did today, you will know that. Please come to my apt., and the three of us can try to communicate our feelings.

Gerry said...

I was just thinking as I read that the heartache of love just has to hurt until it quits. And if it cuts deep it can last a long time, as Doc indicated. So you're in a world of company. Doc says he is Beckett, but he does not know Beckett. Doc never takes anything too serious today and thinks a good laugh will cure everything, but it is so good to have you back in Phoenix, for I know that after you have recovered from the complete depletion of energy it took to come to Phoenix, rush to Texas and back, I know you will start perking again, maybe not the way you did when you were 20, but with a lot more experience under your belt. You know how to keep people interested even when you are writing about Beckett and de Chirico for people to read who never heard of 'em. You bring the art of theater out west to those who may never have experienced its magic, and that aint hay!

caroline said...

Best I can tell you R, is that you're not alone, I (and the others who care about you) listening. Also, here are the two best prayers ever, according to Anne Lamott (the writer):

1) Please help!

2) Thank you.

She says that's what most of our prayers boil down to anyway. Not making light here. Sometimes you got to work with what you got.
peace out.

Anonymous said...

"..In essence, it is my attempt to find an escape from a level of ordinariness that I find totally isolating and despairing..."

You know what? I have been trying to form that thought for 30 years. Actually, I have formed that thought but putting it into words, was impossible. You just solved my life mystery. Well, one of them.

There is so much about you that exists and influences that you may not even realize. In your scraping and dreaming and running and driving and losing and winning, people are moved by you.

Even if every play you do from here on out, fails miserably, someday THE play will be written about you by someone who watched you LIVE. People are listening and watching. Some people hate your gypsy free-spirit ability, mostly out of envy but they are watching and they are curious.

As for love. sigh. Love is a weird thing. Much like a drug. It can make you invincible, it can motivate you, it can make you blind as an old bat or it can make you crumble like an old pie crust, and leave you just as salty. But, real love does not give up on you. It tries and tries and tries and tries. Kind of like your love of theater. It tries and tries and tries. No matter what happens, win or tries.

It doesn't listen to the snickering folks that stand in the sidelines and say give up..give are wasting your time.

Love can't help be a part of the equation. Much like theatre, the love of your life will arrive, and much like theatre, she will frustrate you, elevate you, move you, motivate you, break you, inspire you, soothe you, confuse you, fuel you and most importantly, she will know it is you that life and all of it's different scenes will never work without.

Keep your chin up and oil in the chevy.

(Im not going back to edit this) said...

Hey, you poor sad lovelorn isolated
ripped apart left alone miserable picked on poor trampled down things, it's not always EASY to live with the love of your life.
(You divorced them, didn't you?)
Just smile and get back to work!

Cheryl said...

Do something really ordinary today; wash your clothes and fold them when they are still warm from the dryer; make some soup using a few beautiful orange carrots; go outside and put your hands in the dirt; wash your face with a nice smelly soap and a soft wash rag. Reframe ordinary. Give it what it really can be. Then think of all the ordinary people who love you as well.

Anonymous said...

I love everything Cheryl said. "Reframe ordinary" thats wonderful.